Après une lecture
for solo oboe(2015)
|Commission||Commissioned by Ernest Rombout|
|Premiere||February 16, 2015; impuls Festival, Graz, Austria; Ernest Rombout, oboe|
Although the titular allusion here is to Franz Liszt via Victor Hugo (the “Fantasia quasi Sonata” Après une lecture du Dante for piano), it is actually the speech-melodies of Leoš Janáček that serve as the basis for much of the material in the piece. Janáček’s sketchbooks were filled with notated transcriptions from everyday life, and he also regularly contributed articles in Brno newspapers illustrated with these notations. In a particular entry dated June 8, 1921, on hearing a Professor Torraca lecture on Dante, he transcribes words like “Beatrice,” “Dante Alighieri,” and “La Divina comedia.” These are seemingly extracted from various moments of increasingly heightened rhetoric during the lecture. There is a kind of crudeness, forgoing absolute accuracy for an overall affect and psychological state. I’ve used the general contours of these fragments as the connective tissue of my piece; they are motifs, alternately sighing, interjectional, demonstrative, etc. I freely apply Janáček’s transcriptions, taking liberties with the actual notes, and using them for my own musical ends, with added considerations of micro-intervals and pitch bending (which more closely approximate the contours of speech), highly differentiated speech-rhythms, and multiphonics for pleading, heightened pathos. In the score, the words are written for the performer to see and perhaps convey but the listener has no clue of any of this apart from the title.
– Anthony Cheung